It is essential for every leader.
It cannot be bought.
It cannot be delegated.
It is recognized across all cultures, races and eras.
It is wholly unassociated with economic status.
It is the ultimate measure of a person of greatness.
Although many people struggle to completely define integrity, most everyone can recognize it. You know someone you trust completely. You know someone whose word is their bond. You know someone who would not compromise. You know someone who would tell the truth, would stand by their promises, and would keep their agreements, even when it hurt them. Integrity is doing the right thing. The question we all ask ourselves is, “Are we that ‘someone’ other people think of when asked to name a person of integrity?”
Dwight D. Eisenhower said,
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
Today, I want us to take a look at practical integrity. The following self-test has five questions to ask yourself. You must answer the questions honestly and transparently. It is not about perfection. It is not about comparison. Integrity is personal. If, as you read the following questions, you begin to think that your initial personal integrity evaluation was perhaps optimistic, do not despair. Integrity is built over a lifetime of doing the right thing. Appreciate that your attention has been drawn to these areas and let it make your future decisions more considered and intentional.
How would you react in the following scenarios?
1. You have just heard an extremely compromising—but unfounded—bit of information about the guy at your office who has the position you desire. Should he move on, you have a very strong possibility of being promoted to his position. This move would almost double your current salary. Furthermore, you have never liked the guy. Do you casually share the gossip?
2. You were delayed at the office, then you were stuck in traffic for an extra 45 minutes, and you have a dinner engagement that is pressing. As you walk in the door, the phone rings and your teen says, “It’s for you. It’s that insurance guy that talks forever!” You say, “Just tell him I was delayed, and I’m not home yet.” Yes or no?
3. You have a small team of direct reports, and you are responsible for their reviews, salary raises and bonus amounts. Last year, you told your sales guy that if he doubled his sales, you would double his bonus. To your surprise, he showed up at today’s review with a documented increase in sales of twice his number from the previous year. Although you clearly have not kept up with his monthly sales, you do know that the bonus amount you were allocated is not enough to cover his increase without decreasing your own. Do you explain that you are delighted with his work, promise great things in his future, and give him a moderate increase? Or do you keep your word and double his bonus, even though you are personally left with a fraction of what you had anticipated?
4. On your way back to the office from an early meeting, you stop for coffee. The line is long, and by the time you have your latte, you sincerely wish you had opted for the drive through. You hand the barista a $20, and she gives you change. As you are leaving, you realize that instead of giving you a $10 and change, she mistakenly gave you a $20 and change. Do you go back to return the extra $10, or do you consider it your lucky day? After all, you did have to wait!
5. Your child desperately wants to play in the city soccer league, and the teams are based on your geographic location. The team roster for your area is full, but the team where your sister lives has one remaining opening. Do you put her address on the application as your own so your child can play soccer this year?
You may have discovered some surprising things about yourself as you read those scenarios.
Integrity is a quality of being—not of doing—but the great paradox is that integrity is completely based on what one does. It has been said that unless a leader has integrity, they are just a manager. This statement may be viewed through many lenses, but certainly, the true determination of a leader is in the loyalty of his followers. To create that willingness to follow, integrity is indeed essential.
Integrity is doing the right thing, every time. It is being upstanding and honorable. Great people have integrity. This means they will do exactly what they say they will do. Circumstances may change. New situations may arise. The agreement may no longer be beneficial. Nevertheless, the person of greatness will keep his word. He will not compromise his principles for convenience or advantage. What about you? Do you have it? Are you a person of integrity?
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